Virtual learning may end up being a part of school life heading into the new school year.
So as Lewisville ISD completes its second month of the district-wide program administrators are able to observe the successes and the challenges that have come with it.
Monday, LISD Superintendent Kevin Rogers updated the Board of Trustees on the program.
Some of the positive things that have come from virtual learning, Rogers said, are the new opportunities that have arisen.
“While none of us would have wanted COVID-19, we believe the new skills our teachers have gained by using tools like Canvas WebX will absolutely be useful when they return to face-to-face learning,” Rogers said.
He said virtual learning has also helped with collaboration.
“Teachers who are the only ones on their campuses that teach a particular class are usually isolated, but with this new system they have been able to collaborate with others across the district,” Rogers said.
He said it has also helped some students participate more often.
“Even students who have often felt overshadowed in the face-to-face classroom have found a safe place and voice in the virtual classroom,” Rogers said.
Rogers said the teachers and the staff have shined in making connections with students and working collaboratively.
“We have received so many positive notes from parents about how well our teachers are doing,” Rogers said.
Examples include career and technology teachers who are able to use the online Canvas program to continue teaching students from their field.
He said students are hosting an industry advisory board for collision repair to finish their ASE certification.
Health science students had a doctor’s visit with a patient and as part of their assignment they are now tracking COVID-19 as part of their assignment.
Rogers said English as a Second Language (ESL) staff have successfully transitioned to a virtual setting and are providing ongoing linguistic support or English language learners.
However, with any new system there have been obstacles.
“The main concern you hear from the teachers is that their students have limited access to technology,” Rogers said. “Some students are still not logging in, even though many attempts have been made by teachers to contact the students.”
Rogers said parents have indicated that their children will not do any online work due to their life circumstances.
He said students have relocated to live with another relative or family member in other areas because parents can’t provide support for online learning.
Rogers said some students are in a daycare setting all day and are not able to complete their assignments.
He said some parents struggle with at-home learning and managing multiple children while meeting their own demands from working from home.
“Parents are supportive, but some of them are feeling overwhelmed,” Rogers said.
He said some parents haven’t forced their special education students to do the work.
“All of these things are areas that we’re looking to address,” Rogers said.
Rogers noted several efforts LISD has made to help students have access to the technology they need.
Among those is expanding its exterior wireless program to include 26 total campuses, which is up from 10. He said the district has also set up eight wireless on wheels (WOWs) at two mobile home parks where there is a need for technology access.
Rogers said a new calling center was created for families that needed an iPad. He said as of May 7 the district has deployed over 2,400 iPads to students.